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Deacon’s Bully Pulpit #9 Handling a Revolver

~August 1st, 2013

Okay there are some nearly lost arts to handling a revolver. This is due to the autoloader’s dominance in the last few decades, as many agencies no longer teach the handling of wheelguns. So we will go over the ways to efficiently handle that gun with the cylinder in the middle!

I am going to give you the basics to wield this shooting iron in a safe and efficient style. I will be using a swing out cylinder gun to demonstrate the right ways to do this.

As you pick up the revolver in your right hand, lay your trigger finger along side the frame of the gun, and keep your finger off the trigger. Now, near your thumb you will find a release, on Colts, it will pull back, on Smith & Wessons, it will slide forward.

Laying your left hand under the revolver, push the cylinder release forward [on S&Ws, pull it back on Colts] and then push the cylinder out and examine it to make sure it is empty. Holding the cylinder with the two middle fingers and thumb of your left hand now allows you to manipulate the gun properly while unloading and reloading. If there are cartridges in the cylinder, tip the muzzle of the gun upwards and then push the ejector rod on the front of the cylinder and let the cartridges fall to the ground. Don’t worry, they won’t explode like something from Wile E. Coyote. Now, keeping the gun in your left hand, tilt the muzzle down and your right hand is now free to load the rounds.

When you go to reload, there are some different ways to do this. First, just grabbing loose rounds from a box or pocket is the slowest, but you will run in to this at some time so practice. There are dummy rounds made that are ideal for this. For folks with normal to small hands, holding them in your hand and trying to feed them in can be awkward at first and it takes practice. The nest way is called a drop pouch, which opens at the bottom, dropping the rounds into your hand, then you load them one at a time into the cylinder. If you have a belt slide that holds individual rounds in loops, grab two at a time by pushing them upward and then feed them two at a time into the cylinder. As you feed them in, rotate the cylinder so it is easier to access the empty holes.

Once the gun is loaded, take a proper grasp on the grip again with your right hand and push the cylinder shut. DO NOT FLICK IT SHUT! I know, I know, Hollywood shows this all the time, but it is hard on the revolver, and if you do it to someone else’s gun it is the mark on a totally clueless and rude gun handler.

Now on some revolvers, you will discover they are fed by moon clips. These are stamped steel or polymer gadgets that hold either 3 [half moon] or 6 rounds [full moon] and are made to allow the rimless .45 ACP cartridge to be used in revolvers. The clips are very simple to use but can be a pain in the posterior to load and unload.

Okay, a quick trip into the 21st Century here, as modern speedloaders by HKS and Safariland allow you load a revolver very quickly by holding the rounds together and than allowing you to shove the gadget into the cylinder and dump a cylinder full at once. These are a very good idea for your home defense gun if you cannot keep a loaded gun handy but need to be able to bring it into action quickly.

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